Sept. 10, 2015
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- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — One particular poster hanging in the halls of Harding (Ohio) High School motivated James Daniels.
The poster informed would-be college student-athletes the odds of becoming a Division I football player. Daniels, a freshman offensive lineman at the University of Iowa, not only beat the odds, but he saw action in his first collegiate game Sept. 5.
“I have had fun playing football before, but when I was out there (against Illinois State), I was really having fun,” Daniels said. “I was on the field, smiling. Ever since I was a kid I saw those posters that say only one percent go play Division I college football, and I realized that with me being on the field, I was part of that one percent.”
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Daniels was a three-year letterman as an offensive and defensive lineman at Harding. He also participated in track and field, putting shot and throwing discus. During the 2012 season for the Raiders, he opened holes for his older brother, LeShun, now a junior running back for the Hawkeyes.
Daniels blocked for Daniels once again Sept. 5 during a 31-14 victory over Illinois State. LeShun picked up a game and career-high 123 yards on 26 carries.
“Not many people get to go out and play Division I football with their brother, and especially having him block for me,” LeShun said. “It was excellent. I know he was excited, I was excited, it was a good time for us.”
James enrolled at the UI in January so he could get a head start on academics. Spring camp provided an opportunity to experience attending class and practicing football simultaneously, making for an easier adjustment this fall.
“I have had fun playing football before, but when I was out there (against Illinois State), I was really having fun. I was on the field, smiling. Ever since I was a kid I saw those posters that say only one percent go play Division I college football, and I realized that with me being on the field, I was part of that one percent.”
UI offensive lineman
“James did a great job in the classroom — carried a very high GPA throughout the spring and summer,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He is a tremendous young man with a great personality and work ethic.”
Daniels selected the Hawkeyes over scholarship offers from at least eight Big Ten Conference programs, including defending national champion Ohio State. His father, LeShun Sr., was an offensive lineman for the Buckeyes.
There are now plenty of Hawkeye fans in Warren, Ohio, and most of them were watching Iowa’s convincing season-opening victory.
“A lot of people that went to my high school and people in my city back in Warren were watching the game,” James said. “There was picture of me blocking for (LeShun) and they were excited to see two people from Warren out there in college doing good things.”
There could be many more instances where the Daniels brothers are on the field at the same time. The Hawkeye ground game was clicking against Illinois State, racking up 210 yards on 44 attempts.
“(James) keeps improving with every turn, we’re really impressed with him,” Ferentz said. “He jumped in there and played well.”
“I look at their technique and how they do things,” Daniels said. “I want to become the best player I can become and help my team in as many ways as possible.”
The Hawkeyes travel to Iowa State on Sept. 12 for the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. Kickoff from Jack Trice Stadium is 3:45 p.m. (CT).